Species Profile

Shortnose Cisco

Scientific Name: Coregonus reighardi
Taxonomy Group: Fishes
COSEWIC Range: Ontario
COSEWIC Assessment Date and Status Change: April 2017
COSEWIC Status: Endangered
COSEWIC Status Criteria: D1
COSEWIC Reason for Designation: This species is endemic to three of the Great Lakes. Despite recent surveys at suitable sites and depths using appropriate sampling gear, it was last recorded in Lake Michigan in 1982, in Lake Huron in 1985, and in Lake Ontario in 1964. The species’ apparent demise is suspected to be the result of commercial overfishing and possibly competition with, or predation from, introduced species. If remnant populations still exist, they may be further threatened by hybridization with other ciscoes and predation by native species such as Lake Trout.
COSEWIC History of Status Designation: Designated Threatened in April 1987. Status re-examined and designated Endangered in May 2005. Status re-examined and confirmed in April 2017.
SARA Status: Schedule 1, Endangered
Date of Listing (yyyy-mm-dd): 2007-12-13

Please note that this information is provided for general information purposes only. For the most up to date and accurate list of species listed under the Species at Risk Act, please see the Justice Laws Website.

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Quick Links: | Description | Habitat | Biology | Threats | Protection | Recovery Initiatives | National Recovery Program | Documents

Description

The Shortnose Cisco has a short head, a short snout and a small terminal mouth.  All the fins of this fish are small: the dorsal adipose fin, the dorsal fin, the forked caudal fin, the anal fin, the pelvic fins and the pectoral fins.  The back is of a yellow-green straw colour, while the sides are silver and the underparts are white.  Shortnose Ciscoes measure, on average, 254 mm.

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Distribution and Population

Substantial sampling of historical and suitable habitats in lakes Huron and Ontario since 2005 captured othercisco species but not Shortnose Cisco. Historical and predicted contemporary distribution of Shortnose Cisco in the Great Lakes is presented in Figure 1 (from Eshenroder et al. 2016). Lake Huron Of the 2586 ciscoes caught 2002-2012 by Nawash First Nations, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, and Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (OMNRF), Mandrak et al. (2013) identified 2079 Bloater (C. hoyi), 147 Cisco (C. artedi), and 39 Shortjaw Cisco (C. zenithicus). A total of 321 individuals could not be identified to species and no Shortnose Cisco were caught. The morphometric data for a subset of these specimens were included in a recent study of Great Lakes ciscoes (Eshenroder et al. 2016), which concluded that the Lake Huron ciscoes now represent a hybrid swarm (see below). Further details on this sampling is provided in the following paragraphs. In 2002-2006, 1950 ciscoes were caught using 1100 m bottom-set monofilament gillnets, with 6.4-6.7 cm stretched mesh sizes, and 91.4–127.0 cm mesh panels (Mandrak et al. 2013). Gillnets were deployed for 24- 72 h depending on weather conditions, but were most commonly deployed for a period of 48 h. Six net sets were made in April 2002, 12 sets December 2, 2003-January 21, 2004, 25 sets May 30-June 22, 2005 and September 28-October 1, 2005, and 26 sets January 6-12, 2006 and March 24-April 15, 2006 (Figure 2). Of the 1950 ciscoes caught, 72 were identified as Cisco, 20 as Shortjaw Cisco, and 320 had a combination of characters that prevented them from being identified to species (see hybrid swarm discussion below). In 2007, 433 ciscoes were caught using 20 bottom-set gillnets set in the Canadian waters of Lake Huron, June 19-24, 2007, over depths ranging 28-108 m (Mandrak et al. 2013). Eleven nets were set in the North Channel, and nine in the northern main basin between Duck, Cockburn, and Manitoulin islands. Two types of nets were used in the sampling. A traditional net was composed of four 92 m nylon mesh panels, alternating 64 mm and 70 mm stretch mesh (for a total gang length of 366 m); mesh size and material were chosen to replicate the nets used in the historical surveys Koelz (1929). The experimental net consisted of eight randomly assigned 46 m monofilament panels, with stretched mesh sizes of 38, 45, 51, 57, 64, 70, 76, and 89 mm. Of the 403 ciscoes caught, 354 were identified as Bloater, 77 as Cisco, and two Shortjaw Cisco. In 2012, 203 ciscoes caught in deep waters (>90 m) near Tobermory were identified as Bloater (110), Cisco (75), Shortjaw Cisco (17), and unidentifiable (1)(Mandrak et al. 2013). The 2012 samples were caught in the annual OMNRF gillnetting program, which caught 8969 individuals identified as “deepwater chub”, not identified to species except in 2012, in 480 of 1822 net gangs set at five locations, 2005-2016 (Figure 3). The standard nets used have the following stretch mesh (mm): 32, 38, 51, 64, 76, 89, 102, 114, 127, 140, 153. Lake Ontario Between 2005 and 2015, OMNRF captured 638 ciscoes in their annual bottom trawl survey; all were identified as Cisco (J. Hoyle, OMNRF, unpubl. data). Currently, three visits are made to each of three sites In the Kingston Basin of eastern Lake Ontario annually, and four replicate ½ mile trawls are made during each visit. A deepwater site, south of Rocky Point, is visited twice annually with a trawling distance of 1 mile at about 100 m water depth). In 2014, a second trawl site was added at Rocky Point (60 m) and two trawl sites at each of Cobourg and Port Credit (60 and 100 m depths). In 2015, the Lake Ontario trawling was expanded significantly to include several more sampling depths at each of Rocky Point, Cobourg, and Port Credit. In the Bay of Quinte, six fixed-sites, ranging in depth from about 4 to 21 m, are visited annually on two or three occasions during mid to late-summer. Four replicate ¼ mile trawls are made during each visit to each site (OMNRF 2016). Between 2005 and 2015, OMNRF captured 142 ciscoes in their their annual gillnetting survey; all were identified as Cisco (J. Hoyle, OMNRF, unpubl. data). This survey samples 10 depth-stratified sites, with up to nine depth strata ranging 7.5-140 m deep and four fixed sites of single depths. Each site is sampled from 1-3 times within a specific time frame using 2, 3 or 8 replicate gill net gangs. Each gill net gang consists of a graded-series of 10 multifilament gill net panels of mesh sizes from 38 mm to 152 mm stretched mesh at 13 mm intervals, arranged in sequence (OMNRF 2016). Of the over 2.4M fishes caught in the United States Geological Survey (USGS) and New York Department of Environmental Conservation annual bottom trawling survey conducted 2005-2016, 4351 ciscoes were caught and all identified as Cisco (C. artedi)(B. Weidel, USGS, unpubl. data). These surveys included maximum depths to 225 m, suitable for deepwater ciscoes. Substantial sampling of historical and suitable habitats in lakes Huron and Ontario since 2005 captured other cisco species but no Shortnose Cisco. [Updated 2018-02-19]

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Habitat

The Shortnose Cisco inhabits deep waters.

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Biology

Spawning occurs in the spring.  Females live longer than males.  Otherwise very little is known about the general biology of the Shortnose Cisco.

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Threats

The decline of Shortnose Cisco in the Great Lakes was likely the result of historical commercial overfishing. It has been suggested that remnant Shortnose Cisco populations may have competed with, or have been preyed upon by, introduced fish species such as Rainbow Smelt (Osmerus mordax) and Alewife (Alosa pseudoharengus). Commercial fishing of deepwater ciscoes, including Shortnose Cisco, no longer occurs in the American waters of the Great Lakes except for a small portion of northwestern Lake Huron, but still takes place to a limited degree in the Canadian waters of Lake Huron. Alewife populations remained high in lakes Huron and Ontario until they collapsed in lakes Huron and Ontario in 2004 and 2006, respectively (Bunnell et al. 2006; Riley et al. 2008, Connerton et al. 2014), likely due to declining pelagic productivity as a result of the dreissenid mussel invasion of the Great Lakes (Pothoven and Madenjian 2008; Stewart et al. 2009). Rainbow Smelt abundance in Lake Ontario has been declining since the 1980s (OMNRF 2016). Eshenroder et al. (2016) concluded that certain morphological elements of Shortnose Cisco may still exist in Lake Huron, but have introgressed with other cisco species into a “hybrid swarm” that no longer completely resembles any one of the constituent species. Therefore, hybridization with other ciscoes is a potential threat to the continued existence of Shortnose Cisco. The Bloater (Coregonus hoyi) is currently being reintroduced to Lake Ontario (OMNRF 2016) and could potentially hybridize with a remnant population of Shortnose Cisco should one exist. Lake Trout (Salvelinus namaycush), predators of ciscoes, were native to, and nearly extirpated from, lakes Huron and Ontario. There are current stocking efforts to reestablish self-sustaining populations of this species, which could increase predation pressure on a remnant population of Shortnose Cisco should one exist. [Updated 2018-02-19]

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Protection

Federal Protection

The Shortnose Cisco is protected under the federal Species at Risk Act (SARA). More information about SARA, including how it protects individual species, is available in the Species at Risk Act: A Guide.

Provincial and Territorial Protection

To know if this species is protected by provincial or territorial laws, consult the provinces' and territories' websites.

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Recovery Initiatives

Status of Recovery Planning

Recovery Strategies :

Name Recovery Strategy for the Shortnose Cisco (Coregonus reighardi) in Canada
Status Final posting on SAR registry

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Documents

PLEASE NOTE: Not all COSEWIC reports are currently available on the SARA Public Registry. Most of the reports not yet available are status reports for species assessed by COSEWIC prior to May 2002. Other COSEWIC reports not yet available may include those species assessed as Extinct, Data Deficient or Not at Risk. In the meantime, they are available on request from the COSEWIC Secretariat.

13 record(s) found.

COSEWIC Status Reports

Response Statements

  • Response Statement - Shortnose Cisco (2018-01-18)

    This species is endemic to three of the Great Lakes. Despite recent surveys at suitable sites and depths using appropriate sampling gear, it was last recorded in Lake Michigan in 1982, in Lake Huron in 1985, and in Lake Ontario in 1964. The species’ apparent demise is suspected to be the result of commercial overfishing and possibly competition with, or predation from, introduced species. If remnant populations still exist, they may be further threatened by hybridization with other ciscoes and predation by native species such as Lake Trout.
  • Response Statements - Shortnose Cisco (2005-11-15)

    Endemic to three of the Great Lakes, this species was last recorded in Lake Michigan in 1982, in Lake Huron in 1985, and in Lake Ontario in 1964. Although it has probably disappeared throughout its range, searches for this species have not been extensive enough to declare this species extinct. The species’ apparent demise is suspected to be the result of commercial overfishing and possibly competition or predation from introduced species.

Recovery Strategies

  • Recovery Strategy for the Shortnose Cisco (Coregonus reighardi) in Canada (2012-08-09)

    In 1987, the Shortnose Cisco (Coregonus reighardi) was assessed as “Threatened” by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC). In 2005, on the basis of an update status report, the species was reassessed by COSEWIC as “Endangered” and subsequently listed as such under Canada’s Species at Risk Act (SARA) in 2007. Originally endemic to three of the Laurentian Great Lakes, the species was last reported from Lake Ontario in 1964, Lake Michigan in 1982 and Lake Huron in 1985. The species is believed to be extinct although it does not yet meet the formal criteria for that designation (i.e. elapsed time since last credible record > 50 years).

Orders

  • Order Acknowledging Receipt of the Assessments Done Pursuant to Subsection 23(1) of the Act (2007) (2007-05-16)

    This Order acknowledges receipt by the Governor in Council of the assessments of the status of 40 species done pursuant to paragraph 15(1)(a) and in accordance with subsection 23(1) of the Species at Risk Act (SARA) by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC). The purpose of SARA is to prevent wildlife species from being extirpated or becoming extinct, to provide for the recovery of wildlife species that are extirpated, endangered or threatened as a result of human activity and to manage species of special concern to prevent them from becoming endangered or threatened.
  • Order Amending Schedule 1 to the Species at Risk Act (volume 141, number 26, December 13, 2007) (2007-12-26)

    Her Excellency the Governor General in Council, on the recommendation of the Minister of the Environment, pursuant to section 27 of the Species at Risk Act, hereby makes the annexed Order Amending Schedules 1 to 3 to the Species at Risk Act.
  • Order Extending the Time for the Assessment of the Status of Wildlife Species (2006-06-14)

    The time provided for the assessment of the status of the wildlife species set out in the schedule is extended for 3 years from the day on which section 14 of the Species at Risk Act comes into force.

COSEWIC Annual Reports

  • COSEWIC Annual Report - 2005 (2005-08-12)

    2005 Annual Report to the Canadian Endangered Species Conservation Council (CESCC) from the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada.
  • COSEWIC Annual Report 2016 to 2017 (2017-10-24)

    Over the past year COSEWIC re-examined the status of 40 wildlife species; of these, the majority (78 %) were reassessed at the same or lower level of risk. Of a total of 73 species assessed 11 were assigned the status of Not at Risk (8 re-assessments and 3 new assessments). To date and with the submission of this report, COSEWIC’s assessments now include 735 wildlife species in various risk categories including 321 Endangered, 172 Threatened, 219 Special Concern and 23 Extirpated (i.e. - no longer found in the wild in Canada). In addition 16 species have been assessed as Extinct, 58 have been designated as Data Deficient and 186 were assessed and assigned Not at Risk status.

Permits and Related Agreements

Consultation Documents

  • Consultation on Amending the List of Species Under the Species At Risk Act: November 2005 (2005-11-16)

    The Government of Canada proclaimed the Species at Risk Act (SARA) on June 5, 2003 as part of its strategy for the protection of wildlife species at risk. Attached to the Act is Schedule 1, the list of the species that receive protection under SARA, hereinafter referred to as the 'SARA list'. Canadians are invited to comment on whether all or some of the species included in this document should be added to the SARA list.
  • Consultation Workbook on the Addition of Three Aquatic Species to the SARA List: Shortnose Cisco, Black Redhorse, Kiyi (Great Lakes population) (2005-11-15)

    Your opinion is being sought to assist the government of Canada in making an informed decision on whether to add the shortnose cisco, black redhorse, and kiyi (Great Lakes population) to the Schedule 1 (the List of Wildlife Species at Risk) of the Species at Risk Act (SARA). Your input on the impacts of adding these species to the List is important. This workbook has been developed to give you an opportunity to provide Fisheries and Oceans Canada with your feedback, advice, and other comments regarding adding these species to Schedule 1 of SARA (Schedule 1 identifies which species are legally protected under SARA).
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